Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Austin Energy Excels as #1 Green Energy Electricity Utility in America

UPDATE: This is a list of the top ten green energy programs in the United States with the latest December 2005 figures and links to these electric utilities. One of the biggest differences we can make is to switch to "green energy" - energy generated from 100% renewable sources. Florida Power & Light is a new entry into the top ten at number four. The company recently announced the construction of the largest solar array in Florida on the site of a closed landfill in Sarasota. The 1,200 photovoltaic solar panels are each about 31 inches wide and 63 inches long. The facility is to be more than 28,000 square feet, or about half the size of a football field. "We sought a location that had a ground site large enough for 250 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels," said Jeff Bartel, FP&L VP of external affairs.

If you live in a part of the United States that is not served by an electric utility on this list please see this List of Green Energy Providers by State.

As our energy challenges are global I appreciate every assistance in compiling a similar list of renewable energy providers in other countries. Feel free to email or leave a comment.

Returning to the United States, Austin Energy has shown its commitment to renewable energy by topping the list. The U.S. Department of Energy said Austin Energy's Green Choice program sold more than 334 million hours of renewable energy last year.

More than 350 businesses in Austin get their power from renewable sources as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Austin Energy uses electricity from 61 West Texas wind turbines.

Here's the top ten green energy programs in the United States (as of December 2005).

1. Austin Energy -
areas served include Austin, Texas
green energy from Wind Power, Land Fill Gas, Small Hydro -
435 MWh/year

2. Portland General Electric (PGE) -
areas served include Portland, Oregon
green power from existing Geothermal, Wind Power, Small Hydro - 340 MWh/year

3. PacifiCorp - includes Pacific Power and Utah Power
areas served include:
Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, California, Utah, Idaho
green energy from Wind Power, Biomass, Solar Energy -
234 MWh/year

4. Florida Power & Light - green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Solar Energy - 225 MWh/year

5. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) -
green power from Landfill Gas, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 195 MWh/year

6. Xcel Energy -
areas served include: Denver,Colorado; Elkhart, Kansas; Wakefield, Michigan; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Roswell, New Mexico; Fargo, North Dakota; Boise City, Idaho; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Amarillo, Texas; Eau Claire, Wisconsin
green electricity from Wind Power - 148 MWh/year

7. National Grid -
areas served include:
New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nantucket
green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 128 MWh/year

8. Basin Electric Power Cooperative (SMUD) -
green power from Wind Power - 114 MWh/year

9. Puget Sound Energy (PSE)-
area served Washington state
green energy from Wind Power, Solar Energy, Biogas -
71 MWh/year

10. OG&E Electric Services -
area served Oklahoma
green electricity from Wind Power - 64 MWh/year

(source: NREL)

MWh/year = million kWh/year rounded down

List of Green Energy Providers by State

One of the single biggest ways we as individuals can encourage the use of alternative energy and help aid the transition to a post fossil fuel age is to buy electricity partly, or preferably completely, generated using alternative energy.

Switching your electricity utility provider may be as simple as requesting a form or filling one in online. That's exactly how I switched to 100% renewable energy (generated mainly from wind power with some solar power and small scale hydro thrown into the mix). Renewable energy options are available throughout the U.K. and in many other countries.

To find out if you can switch to renewable energy in your area look on your search engine of choice for "green energy", "green power" or "green electricity". You may also need to add your location to the search. If your local utility doesn't provide a renewable energy option yet, email or call them and ask why.

Original News 8 Austin Article

Green-e Certified Electricity Products

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alternative Energy Argentina: Bringing Wind Power to Remote Areas

Max Seitz reports for the BBC that wind power is the most widespread renewable energy source in Argentina - and Patagonia in particular has extraordinary potential due to its strong and constant winds.

He travelled to southern Chubut province, about 890 miles south of Buenos Aires, where wind power is making life easier for a number of isolated communities

In the midst of a dark wilderness, wind-generated electricity is changing lives in the region, lighting homes and schools in remote areas.

"Patagonia provides ideal conditions, unique almost, for the development of wind power," explained Hector Mattio, Director of the Regional Centre for Wind Power (or Cree in Spanish).

"We get very strong sustained winds of 11 metres per second, while in Europe they usually only reach about nine," Mattio added.

Cree - funded by the Chubut government and located in the provincial capital Rawson, near Trelew - currently has many community projects on the go to install wind generators.

So far, more than 300 isolated rural villages in Chubut have received small wind turbines which provide them with light, communication and power for domestic electric appliances.

A 66-year-old Araucano Indian, Julian Ibanez, welcomed us to his stone-built house.

Julian owns horses and sheep but his prize possession is a three-blade, 12-metre high wind turbine with 600-watt power (the equivalent of 10 light bulbs). Like others in the region, he simply calls it the "windmill".

"They installed the windmill a while ago now and it's changed our lives. We didn't have electricity before, just a kerosene lamp and that was it; now we have light and we can listen to the radio."

Julian led me to a plain bedroom, where he had a fuse box attached to the wall and a 12-volt car battery, and explained how everything worked.

The wind turns the windmill blades and a cable takes the energy produced into the house. The fuse box controls the voltage and battery charge.

Marcos added that the electrical supply is constant - whether it comes directly from the generator or, when there is no wind, from what has been stored by the accumulator.

Some dwellings have installed an inverter, a gadget to transform a 12 volt output into 220 volts - ideal for domestic appliances.

Another inhabitant of the area, 30-year-old Adelino Cual, also an Araucano, had this to say: "We have electricity 24 hours a day, not just the little lamp we had before. We no longer have to buy kerosene or gas-oil. It works out cheaper for us."

The engineers had shown him how to work and maintain the generator and the fuse box: "They taught me, for example, how to change the fuses if they blow; I've changed them several times," he said.

And Marcos added that the idea is for those benefiting from the technology to be self-sufficient.

After visiting the hamlets around about, we made our way to the heart of Chacay Oeste, which comprises a dozen or so houses and a school-shelter which accommodates some 30 pupils from neighbouring settlements.

The school has been provided with six wind turbines, installed by Cree in the highest part of the town.

"They provide energy for our building, for the shelter and also the teachers' houses. During the school holidays, they are used to supply energy to the rest of the village".

Before turbines were installed, Chacay Oeste got its electricity from a petrol generator, the noise of which had become part of the landscape for the locals.

"The windmills have changed things a lot for the youngsters. Now they have access to computers, and teachers can educate them through television programmes."

"Now I feel I communicate more with other people. Not like before - we were a bit unsociable," Julian confessed after telling me that he regularly listens to the radio to find out what is going on, and that he really appreciates the Cree technicians' visits.

And at Cree they confirm that this is indeed what it is all about: The social impact the technology has had on the communities has helped to integrate them more.

Full BBC Article

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